Saturday, August 14, 2010
Chug, Chug, Stop.
It wasn't so much the fact of running out of gasoline. If it hadn't been me, it would have caught one of the other drivers. So it was just my karma that led to me rolling to a stop on the side of I-75. Dead engine, dead limo. And two customers wondering what kind of cracker-jack outfit The Boss runs.
The warning signs had been there for a while. One other driver asked me a couple of weeks before if I'd noticed weirdness with the gas gauge on that particular limo, a six-passenger. I thought nothing of it. Standard procedure for all drivers is to fill the tank after each run, so the next run can start with a minimum of set-up time.
There was absolutely no reason to think the tank was anything but full.
That day's job was to collect two people to drive them to Orlando for the Cleveland-Orlando NBA final. They had tickets three rows up from the Cav's bench. Pretty big night.
I did my usual prep work: Ice in the bars and a cooler-full in the trunk; water, soda, juice, a couple of newspapers; vacuum and clean the windows. Start the engine, and note that the gas is showing full. Everything normal.
We drove about thirty miles before the thing coughed, coughed, chugged and stopped. You can imagine the sinking stomach I had, wondering what the hell I'd done to deserve this miserable fate. It turned out that the previous driver had not filled the tank after her run even though she'd driven at least 180 miles...because the gas gauge showed full. This in a car that (at best) gets about 15 miles per gallon. She apparently thought the damn thing ran on air that night.
The deeper problem is that The Boss doesn't encourage the kind of feedback that might have caught the problem then and there. Had the driver mentioned "Hey, the weirdest thing - I drove all around last night, and the gas gauge didn't budge from full" any normal business owner might have investigated.
And saved the whole misadventure.
There is a vaguely happy ending. The Florida Highway Patrol man (breakdown division, not the tax-collection types) happened along around ten minutes later. He had about one third of a gallon of gas, which was plenty to get me to the next exit and a service station.
After a speedy cruise up I-75 and I-4, a sneaky end-run the back way to Amway Stadium, my folks were just in time for tip-off.
Perhaps karma works both ways.
Oh, and the problem was diagnosed as a faulty sender unit in the tank. And it's still that way today. It really is a cracker-jack business.
Pic of 1964 Lincoln from here [link]